Friday, July 20, 2012

Half Ironman

I recently signed up for my first half ironman.  I am excited and scared to death about it.

I am sure that the ride and the run shouldn't be a major obstacle but the swim has me on the verge of a panic attack.

In the group of athletes you hear over and over how people have gone from not being able to swim at all to swimming over a mile in less than 6 months.  Well I have been struggling with swimming for more than 3 years.  I have taken lessons, I have put in the time at the pool.  I have listened to tip after tip and tried everything imaginable.

Don't get me wrong, I have improved, considerable.  But not to the point where I feel remotely comfortable swimming this kind of distance.  I have recently began open water swimming.  My goal is to increase my confidence.

I am not giving up.  I will make it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to HIM Training

Now that we have completed the Ride to Cure for this year, it's time to get back to HIM training.

My main concern for the next 2 months will be swimming.  I really need to spend more and more time in the water.  Preferably the open water.  We have a couple of groups that swim in a couple of lakes in the area.  So I am have plenty of opportunities.

With that being said, I am struggling with getting to the lakes.  Life has a way of bogging down your schedule and its not easy to do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

JDRF Ride to Cure

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first JDRF ride of this year in Burlington Vermont.  I was also had the pleasure of coaching the team.

Our first ride on Friday was a coaches.  I was a little nervous.  Riding with the coaches, I figured that we would be riding full out.  I know that as someone who should know better, the night before the ride, I changed my cleats on my shoes.  Unfortunately my bike was in the Bike room so I couldn't check them.  As fate would have it, they didn't work, but we were getting ready to leave so I decided to just suck it up and put just the front cleat in go.  Then we were about to start we hear a loud pop in the bike staging area.  Blow out.  So we waited 10 minutes for the flat change.  

I was struggling with my shoes but I still was ok.  We finally take off and within the first 1/2 mile half mile, another blowout. .  We joked that we were getting all the flats out of the way before the actual ride.  After another 10 minutes we started riding again. We were just through downtown Burlington when yep you guessed it, another flat.  We figured that this ride was doomed at this point.  We were really worried that we would never get really going.

We did get going.  The area in Burlington that we rode was really great.  I was truly a scenic ride.  Well, I really didn't get to admire the scenery too much, we rode pretty fast, although my Garmin didn't translate that too well with all the slowing and stopping.  I was also still fighting with my shoes (love that excuse).

We finished and all vowed to make this part of the weekend going forward.  I immediately found a bike tech and changed out my cleats for the correct ones.  After breakfast was the training/tune up ride with our teams.  This was the first chance I had to ride with two of my team members.  They did great.  It was obvious that they had spent time riding.  Their cardio was great.  They were not use to riding in pacelines but that was ok.  We enjoyed a short 7 mile to a scenic outlook and back.  It was still a great ride.

All bikes check out and we were free to enjoy Burlington for the remainder of the day.  We all decided to relax and enjoy Burlington.

On Saturday we were expecting the temps to be a little higher than normal for Burlington.  It was going to be in the mid 90's by the time that the majority of riders would be finishing so we started hydrating.  It had a feel of being back at Death Valley.

We began lining up at about 6:45 on Saturday morning. You could feel the excitement in the air.  We were truly excited about the ride.  Remembering that this is a ride and not a race, JDRF stationed SAG points at about every 12 - 15 miles.  This out and back would not be too incredibly challenging except for a couple of hills.

I knew my team had various plans.  I had a couple that were going to do 50 and the rest of us were going for the full century.  The ride out to the first rest stop was easy.  We took it easy and then flew down a great down hill (remember out and back).  We arrived at the first rest stop and everyone was really excited.  The group was still together and all was still fresh.

We took off and immediately cross a gorgeous covered bridge.  And of course we needed to stop and take pictures.  We started again.  It was an easy ride.  At mile 23 we observed a mile of silence.  It was tough, the miles of silence fell on the busiest section of the ride.  Also we passed camels and llamas and some of the riders couldn't contain their enthusiasm.

At mile 25 was the second rest stop.  The ride was still going great for everyone.  Two of our riders decided to turn around at this point.  They did a great 25 mile out so I was sure they would do well riding back from this spot.

The three of us remaining took off and enjoyed the ride to Vergennes.  This stop was at mile 36.2. At mile 35 we had to make the most difficult climb.  It was difficult for the grade.  It was an immediate 8 - 12% grade.  It was great.  We all made it.

In Vergennes, they were having a French Heritage festival.  I am sure they were not expecting the influx of riders.  It was still great.  We were in a little park and fortunately we had lots of shade.

We took off from this stop knowing that the next rest stop was the halfway point.  Right after we took off I noticed that one of my riders having a tough time.  After about 2 miles, I decided that it would be better for him to turn around.  Fortunately he turned without a fight.  Jim and I continued on and we picked up a couple of riders and made it to Middlebury in great shape.

At Middlebury, we were on the campus of Middlebury College.  It was a beautiful campus.  We reloaded supplies and headed back.  We took off and the ride back to smooth and beautiful.

Arriving at Rest stop 3 again, and headed out again.  About half way to rest stop 2 we were confronted 2 pit bulls.  Very scary.  They actually came out into the street.  Aggressively barking.  Scared the crap out of me.  Once we arrived at rest stop 2 the next group came in and didn't say anything about the dogs.  Oh well.

Heading back to Rest Stop 1, we were still feeling great but ready to be done.  We were still making great time and the pace wasn't too taxing so we cruised back into the stop.  We also were preparing ourselves mentally for the long climb that previously was a great down hill.  This climb was tough.  I kept reminding everyone to just spin.  Spinning is great mostly but with tired legs and the little resistance, you face cramping. And at the top of the hill I cramped big-time.  Fortunately it was quick. And as quickly as I cramped it went away.

Others walked up the hill.  At this point in the ride there was no shame in walking this hill.  It was tough.  With this hill completed, we knew that basically the ride was completed.

Crossing the finish was very rewarding.  I enjoy the personal achievement but I get more pleasure from helping others make it.

Well that ends the fun part of this blog.  Now for the more serious portion.  While riding 100 miles is great and helping others make the ride is also great, the purpose of this ride is more serious.

We rode to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes (T1D).  A person with T1D is insulin dependent and unfortunately it is a life sentence.  No matter how good the person eats, what kind of shape they are in, how well they manage their stress, they will ALWAYS have this disease.

We are riding to raise money to find a cure.  I know that God is able to do all things.  I know that if its in His Will it will happen soon.  But I also know that we are making great strides in diabetes care.  I know that even though it's not a cure, my prayer is that it makes the rode of highs and lows for a diabetic a little smoother.

For those reading this, I hope you will take a moment to donate.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th

Yesterday, I attended the Firecracker 100k.  It was a 100k ride with the Heritage Bike Group.  I also invited Chick from The Second Wind and other friends from Tri-Unify.

We met at Allstar Bike shop at @ 7:30.  We were all excited and anxious to get started.  While standing there we had the opportunity to just watch the diverse crowd. The differences in people.  All getting ready for either a 50 or 100k ride.

This ride took us through a tri-county route.  We went south from Wake County into Harnett County and crossed over into Chatham County back int Wake County.  While the route wasn't too difficult, it had its challenges.

The group did a great job.  We were able to stay together and enjoy the fabulous NC scenery.  Fortunately we all made it without any injuries, mechanical issues or SAG support.  It was a great time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

Seriously does it get any better.  I am so very blessed.  I am blessed to be in an area that affords me so many different fitness avenue.  Blessed with friends that are encouraging and supportive.  

This weekend I participated with The Second Wind in the Raleigh's Finest 5k.  It was a run to raise money for fallen firefighters in the Raleigh Area.  This is an awesome cause helping some of our bravest in their families times of need.  

The Second Wind is a Christian group that met twice a week for the 12 weeks leading up to the race.  There were runners from all categories participating.  From the couch potato to the seasoned 5k runner.   We were all there to support and encourage each other. We also had younger children running in the 1 mile fun run.  That was also inspirational.  

This weekend was a very warm weekend to say the least.  With temps expected to break the century mark, we all were concerned with hydration and keeping cool.  Fortunately we were blessed with a little cooler temps.  It was only in the mid 90's during the run.  

The run began at one fire station was an out and back to the next fire station.  The start was a little uphill, but very gradual.  It was also shaded.  Actually the first half to three quarters of a mile had plenty of shade. That also assisted with the heat.  

We all arrived at the Fire Station around 7:30.  We were all in our The Second Wind t-shirts and I was very encouraged to be included in the group.  The many first timers so we were there helping to remind them of what to expect.  

At 8:00 the 1 mile fun run began.  We had a couple of kids participate.  They are cute as they are finishing races.  Seeing their faces light up.  Seeing how proud the parents are to witness their kids achieve this goal. 

Before this race, I actually warmed up.  I went for a quick mile run, well not quick but a mile run.  Just loosening up my legs.  The race began at 8:30.  We lined up and took off.  I was expecting this to be a smaller race, with few really fast runners.  Well I was very wrong.  I was about 30th for the first mile and my first mile was about a 6:15.  I was like WOW.  The course/road was very wide so there wasn't any jousting for position.  It was really spread out.  I found a rhythm and decided to ignore the watch and just run.  My goal was to continue trying to pass some of those rabbits who ran out in front.  

At the turnaround, I felt like I had made up some of the ground I lost but I knew that I needed to continue pushing it.  At mile 2, I still felt like I had plenty left in the tank so I tried to speed up a little.  It felt great.  Then seeing The Second Wind participants.  Their smiles and encouragement helped me to continue going.  It was great.  At about the half mile to go mark I saw that I was on pace to break 20 minutes.  I was excited.  That was on my list.  With that in mind I couldn't slow down.  Then I saw this guy just a little in front of me and I decided if I could past him then I would make my goal.

Finally at the finish I was able to past him and my time was 19:42.  A PR in the 5k.  I was so very excited.  It was awesome.  Then I went into cheerleader mode and wanted to encourage the other runners.  It was more exciting to see each person finish.  Everyone would finish and then start cheering. It was very nice.  Coach Jon Parks finished in a PR as well.  He did outstanding.  Coach Chick stopped along the course to run with his daughter.  He was well on his way to a PR as well if he hadn't stopped.  We had three Rubies run the entire course pretty much on their own.  They all did great.  

On Sunday afternoon, I meet up with some friends for my first Open Water Swim.  If you have followed my blog, you know that swimming is my weakest area.  I have been petrified of swimming for so long.  I get anxious just thinking about swimming.  I have been swimming in the pool for about 3 years now.  So I have to step it up.  I want to get to the next level in my triathlon experiences.  I am ready to step up not only in competition but in difficulty of events.  

My goal is to be ready for a half iron this season.  I have committed to doing the Half Full Tri in Columbia Maryland.  But in order to do it, I have to be able to swim in open water.  

I arrived at Beaverdam and was totally SCARED TO DEATH.  My hands were shaking so bad but I put on a brave face.  I am supposed to be a leader.  After the introductions to the group, it was time to actually swim.  We decided to do a shorter distance than the main group.  We were going to swim about 250 across and back.  

I was going to swim with Keith with Missy in the kayak.  Keith is a better swimmer but is also a beginner when it comes to open water swimming.  Ok, time to man up.  I wade out with my security blank (pull buoy) and start swimming.  The goal was to sight every 10 - 15 feet.  Well I am use to pool swimming so I wasn't very good with that.  Also I was supposed to breathe every third stroke, but my practice is every other stroke.  

Well needless to say the first 50 was tough.  I was basically hyperventilating from taking too many breathes.  That caused my heart rate to peg out.  I was exhausted by 100 and totally panicked by 125.  I had to take a break.  Fortunately Missy was right there with me and grabbed on for dear life.  Phew.  I sat there for a few minutes and then started again.  Made it probably about  75 before I was dead again.  Grabbed the kayak and cause my breathe.   This time Keith also held on so I didn't feel like a total moron (j/k). After another couple of seconds I was able to finish the distance.   

I decided that I had done good to swim across and I decided that I would hold on to the kayak as Missy followed Keith back.  A little over halfway back I was able to start swimming again and made it to the end.  

Back on shore was a couple of other waiting along with Sereion from Tri-Unify.  She was just as afraid as I was so we decided just go along the our barrier of the public swimming area.  It was shallow enough to stand and where I couldn't stand I could grab the protective rope.  We made it about a quarter of the way around and decided to turn around.  It was a great start for her. I applaud her trying.  I do not think I would have been able to start at that point in my swimming progression.  She is going to be really ahead if she is able to continue swimming.  

Once Missy returned with the group she was leading, We decided to  go about half way across again and back.  I convinced Keith to only go about a quarter and back, just to be on the safe side.  This time I made it much more easily.  I was more in control of my breathing.  I got into the 3 stroke rhythm and was able to easily make the distance.  No panic, smaller fear and anxiety.  Ready for the next time.  

All in all it was a great experience.  It was a huge boost to my confidence.  Next week I am going to do better.  I am going to practice breathing and sighting at the pool.  

Sorry for the long post I just got a little long winded this time.